I am just past the 10 month mark, 10 months of this emotional roller coaster. Of horrific days, days that aren’t so bad, and days that I never knew I had this many tears in me to cry. Yet there are days I have laughed, laughed at the memories that he left behind. His silliness and the fact he had no sense of direction, he could get lost in a wet paper bag. I have been amazed at the caring, kind and romantic young man that it became evident that I raised. He had a long and productive life left in front of him, to show the world how it was done. I will never know or understand why that time was cut short, because there is no good reason for it.

I have formed stronger bonds with some of his friends parents. Letting me in on a part of his world that he kept hidden from his mom. Learning that he was a strong, committed and driven young man. He didn’t suffer fools well, he worked hard and expected those around him to as well. We held him to a high standard, and as a result he held his friends, teachers and co-workers to a high standard.

Do it right the first time, don’t mess around, and don’t take advantage of a situation to get ahead. He flourished in a stressful atmosphere and a time crunch. Much like me, he learned well on “the fly” and didn’t need much of a learning curve to figure things out. He and I can both thank my Dad for that, no learning curve in The Whalen household, you learned to do it right the first time!!

What I have learned in these last 10 months is this…

1. Hold the ones you love tight, and make sure they know how much you love them.

2. Apologize often and sincerely. Forgive yourself the most, there was nothing you could have done to prevent this awful loss.

3. Don’t hold a grudge, there is nothing in this life worth a grudge

4. There is nothing worse than the loss of a child, it will break your heart in ways that you didn’t know possible.

5. Yet you will learn to embrace the new normal. Not that you want to, but you will be forced to.

6. This doesn’t mean you are moving on, or by any means forgetting your child. It just means you are trying to live.

7. You will never forget, time will never heal this wound. You will just learn to play the hand you were dealt.

8. Let your friends and your family in, don’t lock everyone out. You are not an island, and locking yourself away won’t help anyone or anything.

9. Do what works for you, visit the cemetery or not. Find a place to talk to them that works for you. For me it is the Little League Baseball Field where he grew up playing the game that he loved.

10. Take each day as it comes, I was always a planner. I still plan, but not to the extent I used to.

But most of all breathe. In and out, one at a time. Someday it will be ok, I don’t know when that day is, I know it isn’t today, but someday it will be.

A Burning Pit

Sitting with Mark around the fire pit tonight and reflecting on everything, even though I tried to hold them back the tears began to flow. Connor was my “fire bug”. He loved to light sticks and wood on fire. He was forever asking if we could have a fire, so he could burn the marshmallows so they were not edible and then end up feeding them to Cooper.

All those memories came flooding back, they couldn’t have been clearer if Connor was right there in front of me. Rolling on the grass, tussling with the dog and laughing like only he can.

I have been told many times that I am not even a year into this tragedy and I am doing better than people thought. What I do know is that as we creep closer and closer to the year mark I feel like I am falling farther and farther down the rabbit hole.

Last year when the holidays rolled around I was numb, I went through the motions, doing what needed to be done. But not really knowing what I was doing. Numb will not be the emotion this year, I will feel everything, and of that I am afraid.

My heart feels a lot like the fire pit as it burned down. Full of pain, and the burning feeling that there is a huge hole in my heart and soul. The knowledge that losing a child makes you a different person, a person who has to put one foot in front of the other and learn to take the emotions as they come. That is not something that I’ve ever been good at. I’m a planner and I want things to run smoothly and according to plan. Grief takes planning out of the equation, because there are just days that no matter how much I’ve planned, my heart says “Nope we aren’t doing that today, and the tears take over.” So instead now I will plan for these emotional roadblocks and land mines. Secure in the knowledge that whatever comes my way I can handle it, the burning pit of grief will not consume me. It may lick at the tender parts, but I will keep the flames at bay.

Love Is…

My family has known tremendous loss, there is no manual for what we have been through. And as I have said before, if there was one I wouldn’t have read it, because I was stubborn and even a little too cocky to think that it wouldn’t happen to me.

On the flip side we have been showered with overwhelming love and friendship. That love and friendship will never bring Connor back, but it truly reminds me that to fully live in this world it takes a village. None of us are an island, nor should we be. Human beings are social creatures, we are meant to lean on each other, help each other through through the rough times, and rejoice in the good times.

My village is amazing, they have held Dodge Ball Games, thrown a benefit/Birthday Party for Kyle and I. Followed me through FCTS baseball season, awards night, graduation, the dedication of the FCTS Football Stadium Lights. My village has traveled with me through good, bad and ugly, handed me tissues and held me while I cried.

The quiet behind the scenes village of my neighborhood built us a gorgeous outdoor living space with a fire pit, chairs, solar lights and flowers. A place where we can sit, reflect, toast marshmallows and remember all of Connor’s outdoor antics.

He was my fire bug, lighting the dead leaves and grass on fire. Rolling around with Cooper and being silly. When we lit of fireworks he was always the one who wanted to light them, and then run.

These memories will always make me smile, right now they make the tears flow too. But that’s what love is. Memories that leak out your eyes and down your cheeks. I wouldn’t change any of those memories for anything, I would do anything, or give anything to have him back. But no matter how hard I try it just wont happen. So I will cherish the memories I have and know that Love is what you make it and who you fill your life with.

No Sugar Coating

Right from day 1 if you asked me how I was, or how Connor was (when we were still in the PICU.) I told you, I didn’t sugar coat it, I wasn’t rude, but I didn’t give anyone any false hope. I would tell you, “today is a good day, or we are stable, or today is a bad day and I am worried.”

Once our lives no longer revolved around the PICU and we were back home. I maintained my stoic attitude on the outside. On the inside I was crumbling, arranging a wake and funeral for Connor just about broke me. It made it so real, having to go to the Church and figure out where he would be buried brought a flood of tears when I didn’t think I had anymore.

If you ask me how I am I will tell you, “I’m having a rough day, and I don’t know why, or I have been crying for 2 days straight and I haven’t bothered to put makeup on.” On my good days I will tell you about those too “today is good, I’m hanging in there and I’m doing good.”

I learned early on if I wasn’t honest with people I wouldn’t get the support I needed, and there was no way I could go through this alone. By telling everyone I was fine I would be pushing them farther away and that was not something I wanted.

My dear friends have been the best of all worlds, holding me while I cried, giving me the space I need, keeping me busy, yet not crowding me. They truly are the flowers that grow in my garden of life, and I could not do this without themโค๏ธ๐Ÿ’.


Therapy is never easy, it always tugs at my heart and drags things to the surface that I would prefer stay buried. Today was a particularly rough session. I know intellectually that I made the right decision to remove the tubes and let Connor go. But intellectually and what my heart feels are 2 completely different things. My heart still isn’t reconciled to that fact, my heart still thinks that I failed Connor. That by not holding on for longer, by not fighting even harder for him, I took the easy way out.

I know that nothing about this was easy, it was heart wrenching and miserable. It was the decision that no parent should have to make. That is what I believe makes me question everything. To lose a child is a pain that never goes away, to be the one that made the decision to let your child go is a whole different kind of pain. As a Mom, you carry a child for 9 months and then nurture, love and raise them after that. It isn’t natural to end that nurturing by choice. Although this wasn’t a choice, it was a decision led by medical know how, second and third opinions and the knowledge that Connor would never be him again. Even having all that knowledge, doesn’t make my heart feel any better, it doesn’t soothe my wounded soul. As odd or crazy as it sounds it can make my heart and soul feel even more shattered, it pulls them in opposite directions, between the knowing and the what if.

Nothing about losing a child is easy, it doesn’t get easier after almost 10 months. I don’t know if after 10 years that will change, what I do know is that my heart n soul cry out for Connor on a daily basis, I try to answer them the best I can, but I never knew I had so many tears to cry๐Ÿ˜ข

Friday Night Lights๐Ÿˆ๐Ÿˆ๐Ÿ”Œ๐Ÿ’ก

Last night was the culmination of years of hard work. FCTS now has a lighted Football Field. Connor and his fellow Electrical Shop students worked putting in those lights. Running the conduit and everything else necessary to for Tech to be able play under Friday night lights.

Running the conduit for the Football lights

Unfortunately Connor wasn’t here to see them to fruition. But all the people who love him, and have supported me were there. There as Superintendent Rick Martin said “Connor will live on through those lights, and that every time we turn these lights on we will honor Connor.” My heart broke a little bit, but swelled with pride and honor all at the same time. Pride and honor because of the exceptional young man I raised. Broken because he wasn’t here to witness the fruits of his labor, because his was a life cut way too short.

Connor didn’t play Football at Tech, but he played Suburban Football and Middle School Football at Mohawk, much to the chagrin of this nervous Mom. I spent many nervous games watching through fingers over my eyes. He got bumped and bruised. Never seriously hurt. But I was glad when he chose not to play at Tech.

Connor (#24) making a beautiful catch during Suburban Football

Instead he chose to follow his passion, Baseball and Electrical. There is no way I could be any prouder of him. It goes without saying that I wake up every morning wishing that this was a bad dream, realizing that it isn’t and there isn’t a damn thing that I can do about it. But hold onto all the memories and all the honors bestowed upon Connor and all of us.

Plaque given to us to honor Connor


Today Mark and I did something we haven’t done all season. We went to a Horse Pull. This one was at the Goshen Fairgrounds in CT, my old stomping grounds, so my dad joined us. We went to watch Jordan’s Dad Brad and her brother Jarred drive their Belgians “Spudsy, Ira, Bode & Morris.”

When Connor first starting dating Jordan he knew nothing about horses. He had dealt with the 2 that Shawn & Karena have next door, but only because they are next door. He grew to love the horses, the pulling ones, Jarred’s Mini’s and even Chance (Jordan’s barrel racing mustang) and he came to an understanding.

He was learning to “hitch evener” with Brad and Jarred and loving every minute of it. Jordan was less than enthused with having to share her boyfriend with her dad, but they were all one big happy horse family.

Watching Brad and Jarred, with a friend of Brad’s in Connors place today was hard. Knowing in my heart that Connor should have been hooking that hitch made me blink back tears.

A few times standing around the trailer shooting the shit, I swore I saw him out of the corner of my eye. In that S Keyes Electric shirt of his, his favorite jeans (with the holes in the pockets) the Fox hat that only left his head when he slept and his well worn Chips. But once I blinked the mirage was gone, and I was left thinking I was crazy.

I know I’m not crazy, just a mom that sees remnants of her son everywhere. In Jordan when she wears his Mohawk Football sweatshirt with his name and number in it. Our cat Precious that loved him and sleeps on his bed, like she is waiting for him to come back. And each and every one of us that is missing a piece of our heart that died with him that day.